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Third of pet insurance claims rejected: 10 tips to ensure success

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
27/05/2016
More pet insurance claims are denied than car, home and travel combined with many people turning to credit and payday loans to cover the cost. Here are 10 top tips to help ensure a successful claim.

Pet owners are struggling to successfully claim on their insurance as new research shows 37% are rejected, far higher than the 1% car, 13% travel and 21% of home insurance denied.

Common reasons for rejection include the policy not covering treatment, insurers claiming the pet had a pre-existing condition, the pet was too old and that the fees and treatment costs were too high.

Research from comparison site money.co.uk found that almost half (46%) of those that had their claim turned down had to use their credit card to pay the costs, while one in four took out a loan and 7% turned to a payday loan.

Many of these rejections could be borne out of the fact that 55% of those surveyed felt both policies and exclusions are not made clear enough by providers.

With the average pet insurance policy costing £241 a year, money.co.uk also found that over a third of pet owners (36%) have never shopped around for a cheaper policy.

One in three of the 1,000 people surveyed believed all insurers offered the same product at the same price.

Check what’s included before you sign

Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk, said: “Pet insurance is no different to any other policy – they’re extremely complicated beasts. It’s crucial you find out exactly what you’re getting from a policy before you sign and tie yourself in.

“You must be clear when the policy will and won’t pay out, which vets you can go to and when your cover will be cut off after you claim. Some policies are riddled with more loopholes than others so you must pick and choose carefully, really paw through the small print. Don’t keep anything secret, pre-existing conditions must be declared otherwise you will invalidate your policy.”

Maundrell adds that if you’re not happy with the outcome of your claim you have the right to escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Figures released just yesterday by FOS revealed that to the year end on 31 March 2016, there were 1,080 complaints about pet and livestock insurance, up 38% from the 790 new cases it took on from the previous period.

The FOS’ annual review report also showed that 3.5% of all insurance complaints (excluding PPI), was about pet insurance.

Top tips to ensure a successful pet insurance claim

Here are 10 tips from money.co.uk to make sure your pet is covered in the event of a claim:

1) The average pet insurance policy costs £241 a year while the average claim costs £720 – three times the cost of the policy – so it’s worth taking out a policy.

2) Pre-existing conditions are a big problem as most policies won’t cover them. Those that do tend to stipulate that your pet must have finished treatment and be symptom-free for about two years.

3) If your pet’s more than eight years old, some providers won’t cover them. When your pet reaches this age, some may hike premiums or ask you to co-insure which means you have to contribute to the cost of treatment.

4) If your pet’s used for “commercial reasons”, eg security, track racing, coursing and breeding, it’s unlikely they’ll be covered.

5) Some insurers insist you use one of their network of vets. If the insurer feels your vet is too expensive they may ask you to use a cheaper one.

6) If your pet’s registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act they may not be covered so it’s important to check.

7) If your pet’s not been vaccinated or had an annual health check the insurer may not honour your claim.

8) Certain breeds may be excluded from policies such as pit bull terriers, Japanese Tosa and Czechoslovakian wolfdogs, even if they’re crossed with other breeds.

9) Vets bills can run into £1,000s so you must make sure you have the right level of cover. For example, it can cost about £1,201 to treat a dog with a torn knee ligament or £663 for a dog with a tumour.

10) Lifetime policies are the most expensive but can offer the most comprehensive cover for your pet. If your pet develops an illness it will be covered throughout their lifetime as long as you pay your premiums. However the downside is that you’re stuck with the same provider.

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